Scarlet Letters

“You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.

As a result, you can show others the goodness of God,

for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9b)

As a young girl, I remember reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We all know about Hester Prynne and her sin of adultery exposed by the birth of her illegitimate child, Pearl. Her sin was self-evident by the child she carried in her arms, but it was made more evident by the scarlet letter “A” that she was forced to wear on her chest, a public display of her sin.

The reader goes on to learn about Dimmsdale and his own scarlet letter that he branded onto his own chest and the anguish of his own sin that eventually takes over his life causing such turmoil and distress on his physical health until he is eventually destroyed by his guilt.

There are so many scarlet letters available to all of us. Perhaps you are wearing one:

Adulterer, Alcoholic, Addict, Abandoned, Abortion, Accused, Angry, Ashamed, Batterer, Bitter, Boastful, Criticizer, Child Abuser, Cheat, Cruel, Complainer, Confused, Cult, Drug Addict, Deceiver, Defiler, Depression, Despair, Drinking, Egomaniac, Empty, Envious, Evil, Enticer, Failure, Faultfinder, Fear, Fighter, Gay, Gossip, Greedy, Grudge, Guilt, Homosexual, Hardhearted, Hatred, Incest, Innocence lost, Immoral, Indifference, Insulting, Intimidator, Jezebel, Jailed, Jealous, Joyless, Judger, Judged, Killer, Lesbian, Liar, Lawless, Lust, Murderer, Manipulator, Mean, Merciless, Malicious, Negative, Neglectful, Obsessed, Offensive, Oppressor, Pornography, Pagan, Persecutor, Power-hungry, Prejudice, Prideful, Prostitute, Queer, Quitter, Resentment, Rejection, Sex Addict, Satanic, Shame, Slanderer, Sloth, Stubbornness, Superior, Thief, Tempted, Threatening, Unclean, Ugly, Unbeliever, Unfaithful, Vengeful, Vain, Violent, Vulnerable, Verbally-abusive, Whore, Worldly, Worthless,  Zealot

There is a darkness that envelops the soul of a sinner, darkness so thick with doom and dread that it begins to suffocate the sinner. The weight of carrying the burden; the mock and the scorn of the sin eventually destroys the sinner to the point that they feel that there is no forgiveness for them; they are doomed to wear that letter forever.

Whatever the letter that either we chose to burn into our own chest, or one that society chooses to brand us with, we can step out of the darkness in our soul and walk in forgiveness.

Over and over again in the Scriptures, we see the signs of mercy and forgiveness of our sins.

Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV) 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Acts 13:38 (NKJV) 38 Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins;

Acts 26:18 (NKJV) 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

1 John 1:8-9 (NKJV) 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:12 (NKJV) 12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.

More than two thousand years ago, God sent His son to this earth in the form of a man. God sent this man, Jesus, as a spotless lamb to be sacrificed for our sins. This wholly blameless man stood silent as He was mocked and scorned and beaten and bloodied for our sins. He gathered our sins in His hands and without a sound He laid down on that cross to be crucified for us. With each blow of the hammer onto the nails that would hold him to the cross, our sins were forgiven. He took those sins, our sins, with Him that we may have forgiveness. Jesus took those sins so that we may be redeemed in Him, that we may be sanctified through Him, that we may be justified with Him, that we may know the forgiveness of our sins from the Heavenly Throne of God.

God, who is infinite in His mercy, forgives our sins once and for all never to be remembered again. (Ps 103)

3 He forgives all my sins

9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.

10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.

12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

It is we, the sinner that chooses to carry our sins in us as a scarlet letter, burned into our flesh. Carrying that sin with us, once we have repented to God for that sin, makes us into mockers of the Cross. Perhaps it our refusal to accept God’s forgiveness, perhaps it is our lack of self-worth that we can’t accept God’s forgiveness. After all, how could God ever forgive me? Why would God ever forgive me?

How could God forgive you? Because He is God, because when you repent, and turn away from that sin and seek His face you are forgiven. All He is waiting for is for you to take that first step towards Him.

Why would God forgive you? Because of His infinite love for you. Because you are His chosen one. Because He has called you out of the darkness of your sin, to walk in His light. He wants to raise you out of the muck and mire that has enveloped your life. He wants you to walk as a child of the King. Now is your time to seek His face.  If you must wear a letter, let it be Saved!

Prayer Journaling

I don’t know about men, but most of the women that I know will tell you that we live in our heads. We typically have so many seemingly random thoughts running around, that if you were to take a peak… well let’s just say it might be a bit scary in there. We carry everything from what’s for dinner, did we take something out of the freezer, when does the dog go to the vet, did I take my medicine, when can I get to the gym, remember to pick up daughter for lessons, don’t forget son needs help with project, and oh yes, I am married and he needs me to do thus and such… and usually all of that takes place before the second cup of coffee.

Add to that the chatter and self talk that we’ve carried around with us for so many years. You know those voices, those condemning, hateful voices that work so well at reminding us just what a mess we are. And don’t forget the voices of past friends, relationships – professional and personal- that continue to remind us of other not so wonderful times in our lives

It’s a wonder that we can think at all with all that running around in there. And then there are the huge thoughts. The one’s that we don’t, or can’t share, the ones that we can take only to God. We so need help sorting it all out. We need to seek His presence, His wisdom, His guidance, His word in our matters.

There are times when my brain is so scattered or when I am dealing with a problem that is so huge for me, that I can’t seem to get it all down. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that have you pacing the floor all night.   Those are the times that I take pen towisdom-post paper and sort it out.

There is something about writing it out that, for me, brings clarity. Perhaps it’s because my hand doesn’t move as fast as my brain, so it forces me to slow down and bring each thought forward one at a time. Bring them forward, and then write them down… one after another. I’m always amazed that at some point in writing out my problems, that I recognize how I really should be praying and what, or who, I should be praying for.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just journal my problems. I love being able to sit down and just write out my praises as well. Sometimes it’s confirmations about something that I’ve been praying about. Sometimes, it’s clarity of the Word. Sometimes, it’s a teaching that I want to remember. Sometimes it’s a verse for the day. Whatever it is, pen to paper has been a tremendous gift that I learned so many years ago when I would watch my mom write everything. After her death, my dad found years and years and years of journals; containing her most private and precious thoughts, concerns, fears and joys. Dad didn’t share them with us… they were not our story’s to know.

On Keeping a Journal:

A trip to your local bookstore will present you with so many choices for your journal ranging from a few dollars to more than a few dollars. I choose not to use a fancy journal. I find that most of the time I will write for pages and pages. I don’t want to be confined to a certain space for my thoughts. For me, I am my mother’s daughter. A trip to my local stationary store and a half dozen or so spiral notebooks and I’m good to go. I love it when it’s back to school shopping and they’re all on sale. It’s my favorite time of the year! Oh yes, and don’t forget a new pen. For me, a new pen on new paper… well they just go together. I also use colored pencils and different color highlighters throughout my writings.

I do write the date on the outside cover of my journal – a start and an end date I think are important if for some reason you want to go back for reference. When you get to that place that we all visit from time to time and you’re wondering if God really has deserted you… if He has in fact turned away from you. A browse through your old journals will show you just how faithful He is.

I would hope that I wouldn’t have to say this, but it might be necessary to find a secure place to keep your journal. Some folks see journals as containing secrets. And I guess in a way they do. If you are writing out some issues that involve someone in your home or someone that other’s in your home know… it might get tricky.

Once you’ve figured out what to use for your journal… you are now staring at a blank page. That can be intimidating. This is what I want you to do. Take your pen… make a huge X on the page. No… bigger than that! Now cross out that X. That’s it… scribble all over it. Now… rip that page out and throw it away. There… now it’s not so daunting! You’ve written in your journal. You’ve christened it. Now it’s time to go about the writing.

What to Journal:

Prayers of gratitude and thankfulness of my daily blessings
Reflections on your daily reading
Prayer requests
Praise reports
Anxious, sad, lonely, fearful thoughts
Vision and dreams
Thoughts and pondering on your daily reading
Details of a problem that you are seeking guidance for
Answers to issues that you have struggled with
Confessions
Your loving thoughts of your King
Revelations you’ve been receiving

The list is endless. The point it, just keep writing. You will begin to see clarity in the issues that have been so overwhelming. You’ll notice really how much God is involved in your life. Your eyes will be opened to what He is trying to show you, what He is trying to teach you. It’s a marvelous thing!!!

Final thoughts…

Prayer journaling is not something that will happen overnight. Like anything it does require discipline. But what you’ll find after a while is that the words will so easily flow as your mind slows down. I believe that it is in that slowing down that our hearts and minds are more open to hearing from God. The act of pen to paper forces us to sit and wonder and ponder and pray and commune… when we force ourselves to sit… just sit and be present wonderful things will begin to happen.

So grab your pen and that paper and get yourself started!

Check out the journals at Deeper Shopping Books and Bibles (affiliate link)

On Trial for Being a Christian

guilty-or-notThere’s a question that has been bouncing around the Internet for a few years….

If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

This question, in my mind, is not meant to be a political statement about what may be happening in other parts of the world. To me, it is more a question that should make the reader ponder their own spiritual walk.

So, I am asking myself the question…. Is there enough evidence to convict me? Is it clear to anyone who knows me… and even those who don’t know me that I am a Christian by the life I lead. Do my actions, reactions, impressions, thoughts, ideas, moods, opinions, beliefs, viewpoints and attitude reflect Heaven’s Priorities?

I will answer that honestly. No, not always. There are times that I want to rip my husband apart and give him a sharp piece of my mind for some seriously insignificant supposed infraction – this of course can, and has happened as we’re pulling into the parking lot of the Church on Sunday morning. Continue reading “On Trial for Being a Christian”

The Cross Starts Here

john-3-16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish by have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in  Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  John 3:16-18

Are you whoever?

Some people are turned off by the idea of an eternal life because their current lives are so miserable.  But eternal life is not an extension of a person’s miserable mortal life.  Eternal life is God’s life embodied in Christ given to all believers now as a guarantee they will live forever.  In eternal life there is no death, sickness, enemy, evil or sin.

When we don’t know Christ, we make choices as thought this life is all we have .  In reality, this life is just the introduction to eternity.  Ask God into your heart and receive  this new life by faith.

Today is the first day of Lent.   I am encouraging you to take the time during this season to examine your life and your eternity.  Then I encourage you to commit, or re-commit, your entire self, your entire life, all that you are, to walking in the way of Jesus.  Make the decision to invite Jesus to become Lord and Master of your life.

Do you want to invite Jesus into your life?  Follow this link to learn more:  https://titus3.wordpress.com/do-you-know-jesus/

Just A Minute

Just A Minute

A minute doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, it’s just 60 seconds. It goes by in the amount of time that the average heart beats 80 times… or for the average lungs to breathe 20 times. A minute is fairly insignificant if you think about it. We really don’t focus on the   single minutes of our life. They are not accounted for in big plan of our life. They tick away and before we know it, all 2400 minutes of this day are done and we are starting on the next 2400 minutes.clock

So what can happen during one minute?

  • 25 Americans will get a passport
  • 58 Airplanes will take off around the word.
  • 116 People will get married
  • 11,319 UPS packages will be delivered
  • 243,000 photos will be uploaded to Facebook
  • 250 Babies will be born
  • 106 People will die
  • 360 Lightening strikes will hit somewhere on the earth
  • 7,295,000,000 human hearts will beat 582,800,000,000

How many times do we say to our husband, wife, son, or daughter – “just a minute” while we busy ourselves with something else

How many times do we take “just a minute” to check our email, update our status’, harvest our make-believe crops, crush 10 more candies, forward a funny joke, post yet one more self-indulgent selfie, share our life events in 144 characters or less?

I remember when I was a little girl; my mom would say “time for bed!”… I would quickly jump onto my daddy’s lap and say “just one more minute mom… please??? She of course would pretend to be cross with me… until dad jumped in and said… just one more minute… and at that he would pretend that he was whispering something important in my ear. I would giggle with such delight thinking that somehow we, my hero and I, were getting something over on mom. Oh such sweet memories. My mom is gone now. Oh for just one more minute with her. Oh I wish I could crawl up into my daddy’s 90 year old lap for just one more minute. Oh to have those minutes back again.

alarm-clockThose minutes are gone. I can’t have them back again. All I have is this minute and the rest of the 2400 minutes I was given this day. And then I am given, if it be God’s grace, another 2400 minutes tomorrow. Time is ticking away. There is much to be done. There is a finite clock. There is no do-over for any of the minutes that have gone by. There is no second chance… when your minutes are done, they are done.

The question now becomes… Do you know the keeper of the clock? Do you know Jesus? Are you ready? You know that you’ve heard it, you most likely don’t want to acknowledge that you have, but you know that everything in this life is finite. The question is… where will you spend eternity after this life? Does all this sound foreign to you?  I didn’t think that it did.

There were many minutes where I heard about this Jesus. But it only took me a minute to say yes to Him. One minute to become a child of the King. One minute for His grace to invade my life, toss away all of the old me… the old minutes of my life.

Jer-29-11

It only took one minute for His love and forgiveness to flow through my entire body. It took just one minute to be washed clean. It only took one minute for my sins to be cast into the sea of forgetfulness – never to be thought of again.

It really doesn’t take a minute for any of us to realize that we are sinners. If we are truthful with ourselves, we already know that. It also only takes a minute to understand that it doesn’t have to be that way. That you don’t have to wonder… that all you need do is say yes. Say Yes to the One that is the keeper of the clock. Trust Him. Make the decision. Acknowledge that your working of your minutes isn’t working. Take one minute – 60 seconds – and give your life to Him. In that minute, you will know without question that you can trust Him to forgive your sins, wash you whiter than snow. For Him to come into your life and give you a new life; the one that He has had planned for you all along. The minute is here… it’s time to say yes to Jesus in faith, in truth, in love, and in ps-139-16understanding.

Do you want to know more?  Go here, or drop me a line here.  Don’t let any more minutes of your life go by.  In this world, our minutes are finite…  In the Kingdom, our minutes are endless and eternal.  Will I see you there?

Unholy Boldness

My heart hurts today.  The news is filled with images from South Carolina and the candlesenseless killing of nine precious saints in the AME Church in Charleston.  My heart weeps for the destruction.

Satan has stepped up his unholy boldness.

Evil now invades our homes to steal our children right from their beds only to rape, maim and murder the innocents – all in the name of evil.  And satan laughs.

Evil now walks upright in the full light of day directly through the front door of our schools and opens fire on the innocents – killing all in it’s path; leaving a trail of destruction and tears that can never be repaired – all in the name of evil.  And satan laughs.

Evil now boards our airplanes – unafraid and undaunted. It take control and three thousand innocents are murdered – all in the name of evil.  And satan laughs.

Evil now plots and plans and stands boldly in the midst of goodness and accomplishment and tradition and jubilation to purposefully plant a device created purely to inflict death and untold damage and destruction of hundreds of lives – all in the name of evil.  And satan laughs.

satan and his minions have become so bold that they now walk – upright and unchecked straight through the front doors, and into the heart of a House of God.  Evil sat while the Word of God was spoken and taught.  Yet that didn’t matter to evil.  Evil stood up and methodically struck down nine lives.  And satan laughs.  I’m sure he was dancing with glee knowing that evil struck while the Words of God still hung in the air.

Where are we going to allow him go next?

People of God – Remember this:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Dead Cows and Burned Plows

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke ofburning-plows oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. 1 Kings 19:19-21

Elijah, a Prophet, was commanded by God to anoint several Kings as well as anoint Elisha as his protégé and successor. Until that time, Elisha was a farmer plowing his family fields, driving a team of oxen behind the plow. Just living his life.

In an instant his life is transformed when Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. At that time a man’s cloak was a prized possession. It served as his protection from the weather and any other dozen uses. But in this instance the cloak denoted the office of Prophet. The act of Elijah covering Elisha with his cloak was to show that he would be come Elijah’s successor. Elisha dropped what he was doing and ran after Elijah. But he stopped him and asked to be allowed to go back and say goodbye to his parents, to which Elijah agreed.

However, in addition to Elisha saying goodbye to his parents, he also took the time to kill the cows and burn the plow. Elisha knew the weight of Elijah’s cloak on him; He knew that he was being called of God for His purpose. He knew the weight of that mantle that would one day be placed on him.

But he also knew is that he could not fully commit to the call that God had placed on his life, if he did not close out his old life. So he burned his old life. With nothing of his old life remaining, Elisha had no choice but to trust God with his future. With no plow and no cows, He had nothing to fall back on.

Elisha knew that if he didn’t burn the plow and kill the cows that he wouldn’t be all in. He knew that he would always have something to fall back on in case the Prophet of God thing didn’t work out the way that he thought it should. Without his cows and his plow, there is no turning back.

bonfireDo I have plows yet to burn? Do you? Are there any vices, habits, memories, people, circumstances, immoralities or un-repentant sins that we continue to carry with us? Are there circumstances of our old life that continue to haunt us? If there are, then take them to the Cross. Ask Jesus to reveal the truth of these areas of your life that need wholeness and healing. Then ask Him to guide you into repentance and finally gratefully receive His forgiveness and walk upright in His Glory.

We can only burn our plows by completely cutting ties with our old life and walk away from any toxic sinful behavior, circumstances and opportunities for our old fleshly behavior to once again rear its ugly head. Just as you cannot pour new wine into old wineskins… you cannot fully embrace a new life in Christ while continuing to live in your old lifestyle. Yes, we receive our new life in Christ the moment we repent of our sins.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;
the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Cor 5:17

We become a new creation in Him. Make no mistake… Yes you are a new creation and nothing can take that away.

However, as my late-husband used to say… “You cannot live with one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom”.

Personally for me, I want more. I want to know without a doubt that I am walking in His divine will. I want to know that I am on the path that He set for me. I want to know that I am doing all that He called me to do. I want to be all in. I want to leave no chance of backsliding. I don’t want my old life, habits, circumstances, behaviors to ever have the chance to reappear. I am heaping all of them up onto my plow and setting it off in a blaze of glory.